The Green Ballot: Rising Impact of Green Politics - Ali Berk Bilir


As our world is troubled by climate change and its effects are visible now more than ever, climate politics is the new kingmaker across global politics. This reality is sharper across European and North American politics. Joe Biden had a strong climate platform against his battle against then-President Trump. Germany's Greens accomplished historical success in the September 2021 elections and are now looking for top government positions in coalition talks. Greens in European Parliament managed to become the 4th biggest group in 2019 elections and controls 67 seats out of 705, a remarkable increase from 52. A recent survey conducted by a British firm shows that nearly 60% of young people are very troubled by climate change. From where our world stands, Green politics has nowhere to go but up.

Accordingly, progressive politicians have long argued that we need a new deal that addresses climate change and rising economic inequality. In that line, the "new green deal" was introduced, inspired by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt's successful "new deal" that recovered the US economy after the Great Depression of 1929. In October 2008, United Nations Environment Programme adopted Global Green New Deal after the financial crisis of 2008 and had ambitions that both deal with industrial recovery and climate change at the same time. Calls for a green economy have increased since then and become one of the prominent political topics in the developed world. In the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), countries have agreed to sign an agreement that promised to reduce their carbon output and put global warming below %2 percent. The agreement is regarded as a cornerstone in the struggle against climate change and within climate politics. Another big step came in December 2019 by the EU Commission. Commission President announced the European Green Deal, hailed the plan as Europe's "man on the moon moment." The plan foresees European Union to become a "climate-neutral bloc" by 2050 and has legs in different sectors such as construction, energy, transport, food, and biodiversity. The plan proposes spending €1 trillion on sustainable investments over the next decade. Also, the EU member states agreed to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030. EU members will update their climate action plan to prioritize energy efficiency, secure and affordable energy supply, interconnect energy systems. The plan also aims to achieve inclusive green transition in economies and leave no one behind, including the energy sector and companies that rely on fossil fuels.


As both national governments and EU bodies ramp up their actions to stay in line with the new green deal, most plans are based on sustainability. Therefore, renewable energy plays a significant role in achieving the 2030 and 2050 plans set up by the Commission. The plan is also viewed as a crucial tool for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. It aims to cut carbon emissions and achieve growth not based on fossil fuels. On 14 July 2021, the Commission adopted new proposals to achieve that goal, in line with European Climate Law. Proposals enable acceleration of greenhouse gas emission reduction in the next decade. Furthermore, proposals aim to increase the use of renewable energy; have greater energy efficiency and new infrastructures. New taxation policies are also debated within Europe and even a significant campaign topic in Germany’s elections.


Debates over climate change and how to deal with it are mainstream as of now. International order institutions constantly warn politicians to take action or speed up existing action plans. Recently, the UN report card shows that Greenhouse gas levels are going in the "wrong direction." The report suggests that according to plans submitted by Paris Agreement signatories, it "would result in a global greenhouse gas emissions of about 16 percent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels." This development is even more important to the European Green Deal and pressures the rest of the world to contribute more to the battle against climate change. However, although the EU's contribution to the struggle is significant, the world needs China and United States to ramp up their climate action plans as these two countries are the biggest emitters.


All in all, green politics are here to stay. So does green economics. The struggle for overcoming climate change also widens existing ideological and economic views. FDR's new deal in the 1930s successfully recovered the US economy from the Great Depression and capitalism itself as the Soviet model of planned economics was less impacted than capitalist economies. Countries were looking to the Soviet model, such as Turkey's five-year development plans. It may be overarching to say in our world system where capitalism, more dominant compared to the 1930s. Still, rising inequality, increasing inflation, high real estate prices, and increasing living costs even in the developed world are also challenging the system itself. Therefore, what European Union is doing is significant for our world system for both climate change and economy can boost willing countries' desire to speed up their transition to green economies, and may pressure other less-than-willing countries to consider.